Valdosta’s $60,000 Business Plan Contest: You Can Do It Too!
With entrepreneurship gaining acceptance as a primary economic development strategy, educators are searching for ways to forge partnerships, engage communities and reach out to potential entrepreneurs. In Valdosta, Georgia a unique twist on the tried and true business plan contest was launched with an amazing result.
In the three years that Valdosta’s contest has been in existence, more than 100 teams have competed for $15,000 in cash and $45,000 in prizes. This model is unique in that it is not restricted to students but is open to anyone and everyone who wants to start a business in our county and it is easy to modify for different communities’ needs.
This program will cover the history of Valdosta’s contest and will detail how partnerships were formed between the business community, colleges, and chamber of commerce. Further it will explain how the organizational structure and rules for the contest were created, and how the cash prize along with in-kind donations were secured for the winner. Participants will learn how the program was launched with socials and publicity, produced and delivered entrepreneurship training programs for contestants, provided one-on-one consulting and mentoring as well as the process for finding the winner.
A package of marketing and development materials will be provided to workshop attendees so they may use them as a framework to create their own contests. Materials provided include copies of rules and regulation, legal verbiage for the protection of contest officials, and samples of advertisements.
With the strategies and program materials shared in this session, participants will be able to create a business plan contest in their own communities that will enhance and sustain new business development and encourage an environment that nurtures entrepreneurship. As a side benefit, this is a lot of fun!
Suzanne Barnett, Director, Small Business Development Center, Valdosta State University, GA